This paper considers the ways in which silences and absences are a central part of research that relies on automated data collection from social media or the internet. In recent years, automated data collection driven or supported research methods have gained popularity within the social sciences and humanities. With this increase in popularity, it becomes ever more pertinent to consider how to engage with digital data, and how both engagement and data are situated, messy, and contingent. Based on experiences with “missing” data, this paper mobilizes the framework of hauntology to make sense of what relationships may be built with missing data and how silences haunt research practices. Ultimately, we argue that it is possible to reimagine absent data not as a limitation but as an invitation to reflect on and establish new methods for working with automated data collections.
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